Backyard Farming Forum

Grass around fruit trees
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Author:  Peasants [ Sat Jul 30, 2011 6:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Grass around fruit trees

Over the last couple of years we have planted an orchard..and the grass is really difficult to manage around the drip zone. I have tried wet newspaper and mulching but it just grows in, under and through it!
Any tips??
One thought was whether to try to dig out the grass then get some old carpet and make tree surrounds for each tree.....
Does anyone know if that would work/cause problems etc??

Any tips appreciated!!

Author:  Faye [ Sat Jul 30, 2011 7:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Grass around fruit trees

I know exactly what you are talking about guys! Is it Kikuyu or couch?
Around autumn I treated each and everyone of my fruit trees to a handful of complete fertiliser, a few newspapers, a bag of sheep manure and a bale of pea hay. That is the least they deserve because they will provide me with an abundance of fruit, the worms will break down the grass undernaeth, and the newspaper will smother it at the same time. The hay makes it look really good and I can mow around them easily. So far it is still working well. Around the other trees I tried the rubber tree guard mats, they are very short term and for the cost, expensive. I recently ran over one with the mower, after I misplaced it because the weeds over took it. Derr!
I have tried the carpet, as a short term fix, and it suppresses the couch and makes the area look better for now, it will be removed when the area is covered with bird net and then the chooks are protected and can do their thing, then it will be kept in check. If the carpet is a type that breaks down easily, then the couch just comes up in the gaps. Don't use the rubber backed stuff cause it will not be nice to build up your soil and won't break down nicely. Black plastic works pretty well and you can move it around, make sure that you weight it down, cause it wants to blow around. Will keep you posted on my progress. I reckon, the ideal thing is to frame the area with mesh, and cover with bird netting, more runs for the chooks.

Author:  Snags [ Sun Jul 31, 2011 9:55 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Grass around fruit trees

have you considered a nitrogen fixing cover crop?

Author:  Peasants [ Sun Jul 31, 2011 10:24 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Grass around fruit trees

Faye, we have the rubber mats around some trees-they seem ok provided the grass is removed first. That is why we thought carpet may work- but you make a good point about that! The straw around the trees doesn't work all that well for us because of the ducks free ranging in there- they tended to rummage around in it and spread it all out. We wondered about the newspaper and bark chips on top instead??

Snags, that looks interesting. Have you tried it yourself?? Does it really keep the grass at bay? The grass is kikuyu mostly, so grows like crazy around each tree because of the drip irrigation!

Author:  Snags [ Sun Jul 31, 2011 12:17 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Grass around fruit trees

I know kikuyu is tough I have seen it grow through a bitumen path in the middle of summer with no watering.
So it will be game on to see what wins, you are replacing a weed with a beneficial weed.
I have planted a fair bit of Pinto beans on a friends orchard and its working quite well he had just regular grass and weeds to compete with.
I use soy,mung, millett as a green mulch here,but will try pinto this wet season.

Its worth trying a small section out and see how it goes with minimal investment.

Author:  earthbound [ Sun Jul 31, 2011 4:59 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Grass around fruit trees

Yeah, I've never had a lot of luck keeping the grass from the base of trees either.. Luckily my orange tree is so dense that the grass just won;t grow under it. My other tree's I've just left..

The orchard my mum has down at Denmark gets left and just mown to keep it under control around the base of the trees, the trees do ok, but you have to keep on top of the mowing..

Author:  Peasants [ Sat Aug 06, 2011 10:48 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Grass around fruit trees

Eventually we do hope to leave it, and the animals or a bit of mowing will keep it in check. I thought it was important to keep the grass away from young trees getting established though?

Mack removed the grass around a few in the orchard last weekend, and it took a good half an hour per tree because the grass was so dense...and these are only little trees we are talking about....some only 1 metre high. Then we will put the rubber surrounds back on some and see how that goes, and try some green manure around others. Hopefully one of them will work!

Author:  Double Decker [ Sun Aug 07, 2011 9:42 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Grass around fruit trees

Hi guys I have been doing a heap of reading lately and The Fruit trees do better with a woodchip mulch, something to do with the bugs and organisms that the wood attracts rather than the straw... :)

Author:  Peasants [ Sun Aug 07, 2011 9:59 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Grass around fruit trees

Aahhh, that is handy to know. The grass does tend to grow through mulch though...but maybe with lots of newspaper underneath......
I can see a three way experiment happening!! Rubber surrounds versus green crops versus wood chips!!
Thanks for the tip!

Author:  Peasants [ Sat Sep 17, 2011 10:42 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Grass around fruit trees

The experiment is underway....
All the grass has now been cleared and some have thick newspaper (ready for the bark chip mulch when delivered); some have the rubber matting back around them; and some have the nitrogen fixing cover crops...well the seed is sown anyway. These have a mesh cover to stop the ducks eating or disturbing the seedlings.
fruit trees.jpg
fruit trees.jpg [ 190.92 KiB | Viewed 17485 times ]

The reticulation has been repaired, all the trees tidied, fed and fruit covered with exclusion bags........fingers crossed we get lots of fruit and more than two olives on the olive tree this year!!

Author:  Burnsy [ Sun Sep 18, 2011 12:32 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Grass around fruit trees

Flame me but I like glyphosate with my kikui :clap:

Once a year (last week for my grape vines), dead still day I spray a good coverage up to about 50mm from my plant stem with a hand sprayer, not set to fine on the spray. Leave it a week to yellow of then slash it down, feed and mulch over the top.

For the vines I do a strip about 500mm wide for the length of the row. Citrus, I spray a ring at least 1m in diameter. Fig, I don't spray, just slash, it is quite capable of competing with the grass.

Author:  Peasants [ Sun Sep 18, 2011 9:20 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Grass around fruit trees

We were worried about spraying it on the trees (most of them are still under 1 metre tall). We did try the wand with the glyphosate but that seemed to be a waste of time-hence all the other effort!! How do you manage to not spray the trees at the same time? :dunno:

Author:  Burnsy [ Sun Sep 18, 2011 4:13 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Grass around fruit trees

Make it a stong mix, real strong, set your nozzle so it sprays rather than mists, hold the nozzle close to the ground and go for it. Saturate averything you want dead. Unless it is blowing and you have a mist come out it is pretty much impossible to spray the tree foliage. I also stay clear of the stem as I mentioned. If you are really worried about it you can make up a shroud out of a funnel of clear plastic that is thick enough to hold its shape (overhead projector sheets are good). Put the nozzle through the small end of the funnel and tape it in place, the funnel should go past the end of the nozzle. You then put the funnel on the ground, pull the trigger and only what is inside the shroud can get spreayed. I find this time consuming and unneccesary though.

Author:  Peasants [ Sun Sep 18, 2011 10:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Grass around fruit trees

OMG...that sounds easy! I like the funnel idea to safeguard the trees.....Well, as it grows back that is worth a try now!
Thanks for the tip :thumb:

Author:  Burnsy [ Mon Sep 19, 2011 4:01 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Grass around fruit trees

I like your plastic rings around your trees and I would actually spray a 200mm ring around the outside of them to keep the couch and kikui out. I tried a ring like you have previously and found the roots of kikui burrowed right under it and still stole moisture and nutrients so I increased the kill zone.

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